The Pacifier Trick Every Parent Should Know

Our Top Pacifier Trick

Love ’em or hate ’em, for many of us, pacifiers are a necessity. It’s estimated that anywhere from 75% – 85% of babies and toddlers have used a pacifier for soothing at some point. And it’s understandable – pacifiers can be a great way to provide instant soothing and to calm fussy, inconsolable babies or toddlers. (That’s the love ’em part!)

But the problem is that pacifier use can quickly become habitual – before you know it, offering a pacifier occasionally for comfort turns into offering a pacifier constantly, so that you can get your baby or toddler to sleep. And that can turn into being woken multiple times each night by a little one who is screaming for you to come and replace the pacifier that fell out of her mouth. (That’s the hate ’em part!)

We’ve written before about pacifiers and sleep: check out this article on pacifier basics, and this one on how and when to wean from the pacifier. But today, we’re taking a look at something new. Today, we’re talking about a super clever pacifier trick that every parent with a pacifier-loving little one at home should know.

What’s the trick? How does it work? Read on, readers – this one’s too good to miss!

‘The Dream Paci’ Tip, Care of The Hint Mama

Today’s pacifier tip actually comes from a friend of The Baby Sleep Site – it’s from Jennifer Saranow Schultz, also known as Hint Mama. Jennifer’s blog is known for its practical tips, designed to make parenting cheaper, easier, and (as she puts it) a bit more humorous!

All of Jennifer’s tips are great, but we were particularly excited about her ‘Dream Paci’ tip. We knew this was one that our own readers would appreciate. So, with Jennifer’s permission, we’re bringing The Dream Paci Tip to you today!

‘The Dream Paci’ Tip – How It Works

The Dream Paci Tip is basically a variation on the idea of a Dream Feed. Many of you are no doubt familiar with that idea – basically, you sneak into your baby’s room at night, after he’s fallen asleep, and wake him slightly. You wake him just enough to eat, but not so much that he’s entirely awake. The idea is that by ‘topping off’ with breastmilk or formula, you can actually increase the time between night feeds, and get a bit more sleep yourself.

The Dream Paci is similar – only it involves pacifiers, obviously ;). Here’s Hint Mama’s explanation (the post actually came from her husband — apparently, he handles their toddler’s night wakings. What a guy!) 🙂

…after several nights of waking up multiple times throughout the night to replace a missing pacifier, I followed a trick mentioned in many sleep training books and “sprinkled” multiple pacifiers (usually about six) in the crib when we said goodnight to our daughter. This “sprinkle,” which made it easy for our daughter to pick up a replacement pacifier in the middle of the night and go back to sleep without screaming, worked like a charm for about a month or so.

Then, our little pumpkin caught on to our trick and thought it would be a fun game to throw all the pacifiers out of the crib while she settled in for the night. Each evening, we could hear the sound of pacifiers bouncing on the ground one after the other, and she was back to waking up in the middle of the night screaming for us to come in and give her a pacifier.

And there was no question that she was doing this intentionally. One night, we watched on the video baby monitor as she pushed pacifiers through the holes in her crib onto the floor and even stood up to chuck one pacifier against the wall in her bedroom.

That’s when I came up with the “Dream Paci.” It works like this: Instead of putting all the pacifiers into our daughter’s crib when we tuck her in and she’s awake and aware that they are there, I now place two in the crib when she’s awake (and she throws these out of the crib as expected). Then, I tiptoe into her room later in the evening when she’s dreaming and fast asleep, and scatter the six pacifiers all around her crib.

If you decide to try The Dream Paci, however, just be sure that you don’t accidentally wake your baby or toddler up when you sneak into the room to do the pacifier sprinkle! That happened to Jennifer’s husband once:

So far, this trick has generally worked like a charm. The one exception: One night I woke our daughter up by accident when trying to sneak into her room. In retrospect, I probably went in before our daughter was fully asleep. So my advice to others trying to employ this trick would be to wait to do the dream paci until it’s been at least an hour from when your little one is asleep.

One final note, before we wrap up – remember that pacifier associations can be strong for lots of babies and toddlers. And while tips like this can be great solutions for some families, other families may find themselves in a position where they need to buckle down and solve the pacifier association once and for all. This is especially true for those families whose sleep is being seriously disrupted by the constant pacifier-related night wakings.

What do you think of The Dream Paci, readers? Have you tried something similar at home? Is this a tip you think would be helpful for your situation? Scroll down to weigh in, to ask questions, and to hear from other parents just like you!

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27 thoughts on “The Pacifier Trick Every Parent Should Know”

  1. @ LyndaH — that’s awesome! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had no idea such a thing existed. Thanks for enlightening me! 🙂

    @ Joanna — fantastic that you were able to stay the course and cure the nighttime pacifier habit!! But the daytime part does sound rough. Would you update us when you do figure out a solution for that? I know there are loads of parents who will be very curious to hear your strategy 🙂

    Thanks for commenting!

    @ Astrid Bannister — glad this tip worked for you! Makes sense – if a baby never falls asleep with a pacifier, then she can’t form a strong sleep association, so there’s never a painful weaning process later.

    Thanks for sharing, Astrid! 🙂

    @ Ashley and @ Kirstyn – good thinking! Clips keeps the pacifier and loves from rolling right out of the crib 😉 Thanks to both of you for sharing!

    @ Erika – hope you found those weaning tips helpful! There’s no way to make the weaning process any easier, but you *can* make it less painful and prolonged utilizing some of those tips. Best of luck to you! 🙂

    @ Sarah Busby — I think Joanna’s right in pointing out that your daughter isn’t necessarily too young, and that starting the weaning now will actually be easier (probably) than waiting until she’s a toddler. Toddlers tend to be stubborn! 😉 And speaking of @ Joanna — thanks so much for chiming in and helping Sarah! Love it so much when we see moms helping moms 🙂

    @ Lisa — you make a good point, but I think we have to remember that the *when* of weaning is deeply personal, and varies from family to family. Some families are ready to wean off the pacifier quite early (during the newborn stage, even), while other families choose to (or sometimes need to) wait until much later. Same for night feedings, for swaddling, for co-sleeping — the timelines look really different from family to family! I see this tip as being useful for families who, for whatever reason, don’t want to start the wean yet, but who do want to maximize night sleep. It’s not a ‘forever’ solution, obviously (I doubt Hint Dad will be sneaking into his daughter’s college dorm and sprinkling pacifiers around her bed! 😉 ), but it’s a good quick fix.

    Thanks for commenting, Lisa!

  2. Huh? Too young to take away a pacifier? There are plenty of other ways to console a child. (Pacifiers are only artificial breasts, after all!)

    As for this tip, it seems like rather a complicated way to avoid weaning off the pacifier. This is coming from the mother of a child who wouldn’t take one, though, so perhaps that’s just jealousy speaking.

  3. Hi Sarah – yes we totally had the same problem at 4 months. It was awful, because I knew I was going to have to do something, aka: take it away and deal with crying and the inner-mumma-torture that listening to your sweet pea cry causes. I was so scared to do it actually, that I waited until my son was 5.5 months old and I was a complete psychological mess. If you do choose to also take it away, please know that the other side of it is so so so so much better. My opinion on your question of if she is too young – I don’t think she is too young, as she was able to form the habit, and so can form another of not needing it. As a matter of fact, I’m realizing that they are SO adaptable when they are that age. My son is now 18 months and already is less adaptable and holds on longer when trying to wean him off things. Good luck Sarah!

  4. We are having this problem right now with my daughter who is just 4 months old. We are waking several times throughout the night to replace the paci. For naps its the same thing. She will wake after 30 minutes and I run in her room to replace it and normally she will then fall back to sleep. Sometimes I have to replace it during nap time several times to get her to take a longer nap. My question is…is she too young to try and get her to sleep without it? Or should we just keep replacing it until she is able to do so herself? I never know if babies are too young to do something like this. Anyone else have this issue this young?

  5. We did something similar to this. After our son would keep waking up looking for his pacifier during the night we started giving him two pacifiers. Problem solved… but now we are trying to wean him off two pacifiers and not just one! Ha Ha. Going to read the weaning tips now 🙂

  6. We have my bub’s attached to his little cuddle lion. Sometimes I go in and he’s just cuddling the lion and other times he has the dummy in his mouth. I sewed two clips onto it myself do I can take them off and change them or wash his very stinky lion! He can always find it himself though…

  7. We use a pacifier clip -attached to her sleepers. She knows that it’s attached to her and has no problem finding it in the night!

  8. Best tip I ever came across from a book by a British author, Gina Ford – DONT LET THEM FALL ASLEEP WITH THE PACIFIER. Take it away from them after 5-7 mins, just before they are completely out and then they don’t wake up missing it as they haven’t actually been sleeping with it – it worked amazingly for our little girl I didm’t go in once to ‘replace’ it, and because she ‘had’ a pacifier, she also never sucked her thumb – Win, win!

  9. This idea sounds great! My 18 month old would be one of the toddlers chucking those things out as soon as we shut the door too, no doubt. We had to bite the bullet when he was 6 months old though, as I was one of those mentioned parents who were getting up 12-16 times per night (NO EXAGGERATION) to replace the pacifier. Needless to say I was on the brink of a mental break down, and yes the 3-4 nights were tough, but ohhhhh I will never regret that decision. Now our problem is day time pacifier usage….in that he’s teething so hardcore that he chews on his pacifiers to the point of chewing right through, making them a choking hazard! And he’s pretty clear that he doesn’t want to chew on anything else. Ah well…it’ll pass.

  10. My tip is the glow-in-the-dark pacifier! My daughter never had a hard time finding her pacifier at night, I credit this awesome invention! We use MAM pacifiers.

    • The glowin the dark MAM pacis were a lifesaver for me. I still put multiple in the crib because inevitably one would get jammed under her teddy and she wouldn’t see it.

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